Published: 15:35 GMT Standard Time - Wednesday 12 November 2014
Prince Charles advocates for persecuted Christians to House of Lords, British MPs sign letter pleading for Aasia Bibi
Country/Region: Pakistan, South and East Asia, United Kingdom, Europe
In a video broadcast to the House of Lords on 4 November, the UK’s Prince Charles has voiced his concern about the suffering of Christians in the Middle East. And in a letter addressed to Pakistan’s Prime Minister and Chief Justice, 54 British MPs appeal for urgent attention to the case of Aasia Bibi, who was given a death sentence for “blasphemy” in 2010.
|Suffering of persecuted Christians discussed in Houses of Parliament|
Speaking on the issue of Christian persecution, Prince Charles encouraged Muslim leaders to raise awareness among Muslims about the suffering of Christians in the Middle East and elsewhere. The speech came in conjunction with the publication of a report by the charity Aid to the Church in Need.
The report indicates that Christians are the most persecuted religious minority in the world and that religious freedom is most at risk in Muslim-majority countries. It also notes the plight of Muslim minorities in certain contexts. The report records a decline in religious freedom in 55 out of the 196 countries studied, including the UK and other Western countries, over the past two years.
In response to the report’s findings, Prince Charles said, “It is an indescribable tragedy that Christianity is now under such threat in the Middle East – an area where Christians have lived for 2,000 years.”
Highlighting the importance of speaking out and not remaining silent, he encouraged leaders in faith communities to promote an attitude of respect for other religions, as well as actions of humility and compassion.
In the House of Commons, a letter was authored by Rehman Chishti, Member of Parliament for Gillingham and Rainham, appealing for urgent consideration of Aasia Bibi’s case. It came after Mr Chishti called on Prime Minister David Cameron to take up the case, on 27 October. Mr Cameron assured the House that “we have been pushing the Pakistan Government to amend the blasphemy laws, and I will be speaking to the Prime Minister”.
Aasia Bibi, a Christian mother of five children, has been held in prison after being convicted of blasphemy in November 2010. Her appeal against the death sentence was rejected at the Lahore High Court on 16 October, and she now awaits the decision of the Supreme Court. In the letter directed to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief Justice Nasir-Ul-Mulk, 54 British MPs describe their belief that there has been a miscarriage of justice. Writing, “We feel strongly…that Asia Bibi has been falsely implicated and the evidence in her case has been fabricated”, they urge Pakistan’s Supreme Court to consider the case without further delay.
Barnabas Aid has been actively campaigning for action in the case of Aasia Bibi. Our “Save Aasia Bibi: Don’t let her die” campaign tells you how to write a letter on her behalf.